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Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

Air quality is harming children, sea otters get some good news, and a utility company provides a partial mea culpa for a major fire.
Exhaust flows out of the tailpipe of a vehicle at , 'Mufflers 4 Less', July 11th, 2007, in Miami, Florida.

Air pollution affects children's mental and motor development, and even low exposure levels can damage lung function.

This week at Pacific Standard, we spoke to California's most divisive congressman, found out why Native Americans are suing North Dakota, and looked into what will happen when Mexico's deadliest volcano erupts.

But as the mid-term elections approach, each day brings many more news developments than our small newsroom can cover. Here are a few more stories we've been watching this week.

Most Children Under Age 15 Live With Poor Air Quality

According to a report released by the World Health Organization this week, about 93 percent of children under the age of 15 around the world are exposed to air pollution at levels exceeding WHO's safety guidelines every day. The study points out that air pollution affects children's mental and motor development, and even low exposure levels can damage lung function. Air pollution is the cause of close to 10 percent of deaths of children ages four and under.

"Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, wrote in a tweet. "Every child should be able to breathe clean air so they can grow and fulfill their potential."

The 'No Otter Zone' Is Not Coming Back

Enacted in 1987, the "No Otter Zone" required the removal of all otters found between Point Conception and the Mexico border. The zone was officially dissolved in 2013, and otters began to repopulate the area. Sea urchin fishermen pushed to have the zone restored, arguing that the sea otters no longer needed protection. But the Supreme Court this week declined their petition, saying that reinstating the No Otter Zone could threaten the still-endangered species.

Southern California Edison Takes Some of the Blame for Last Year's Thomas Fire

In a statement this week, Southern California Edison said the company "believes its electrical equipment was associated with" one of the points of ignition for the Thomas fire, which raged through Santa Barbara and Ventura counties last December. The utility is facing several lawsuits related to the fire. Joseph Liebman, a Santa Barbara attorney whose firm is representing, along with two others, close to 500 of the fire's victims, told the Los Angeles Times that the company's statement would be admissible in court to prove liability, and that his clients would be "very, very pleased" when they learned about it.